The DNA Solution

The DNA Solution

The exploding yeast and fluorescent fish are interesting, for sure. But for Michael Smanski, the real attraction of synthetic biology is the chance to work at the cusp of a new era in biology—one that holds promise for improving food production, medical care, climate change adaptation, pollution cleanup and more.

A Helpful Fungus Among Us

A Helpful Fungus Among Us

Some experts estimate that there are over two million species of fungi living on Earth today. Excellent scavengers and nutrient recyclers, many fungi also gather materials from their surroundings and can even capture and store environmental contaminants.


BioTechnology Institute The BioTechnology Institute is the central University of Minnesota vehicle for coordinated research in the biological, chemical, and engineering aspects of biotechnology. more >> Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering The Department of Bioproducts and...

Grant Programs

Cyanuric Acid - Melamine Biocatalysis Project: Fundamental Science and Business Opportunities PIs: Lawrence Wackett, Michael Sadowsky, Steve Heilmann Emphasis has evolved from swimming pool clean-up to food safety. Progress includes development of an enzyme-based kit to test foods. more >>...

In the News

The science behind Minnesota mining. MnDRIVE grant recipient Nate Johnson is quoted. MPR News U of M explores link between antibiotics, adult diseases. Dan Knights, a computational biologist, is quoted. Star Tribune Cracking medical mysteries with math. Dan Knights featured. University of...

BTI’s Kechun Zhang recognized as an Early Innovator at the University of Minnesota’s Innovation awards.

Kechun Zhang (BTI, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) was recognized on December 11th as an Early Innovator for his work developing a scalable, biodegradable, sugar-based rubber. A potential substitute for petroleum-based products, the biosynthetic rubber could appear in a variety of...

Mike Smanksi joins the BioTechnology Institute as assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics.

Mike Smanski joins the University of Minnesota from MIT, where he developed new strategies for engineering multi-gene systems as an HHMI Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. Hired as part of the Synthetic Biology Cluster, Mike's research focuses on natural product discovery and...

Scaling Biotech in Minnesota

Every visit to the BioTechnology Institute features a tour of the Biotechnology Resource Center (BRC), the institute’s 4700 square foot R&D and contract services center. The BRC has grown from humble beginnings in the basement of the Gortner Lab into a state-of-the-art pilot plant performing fermentation process development, recombinant protein expression and downstream processing for clients within the University and beyond.

Celebrating its 27th year in 2013, the Biotechnology Resource Center (BRC) continues to support research at the University while serving as a resource for Minnesota’s biotech industry. Up to 80% of its business comes from Life Science companies ranging from one-person start-ups to some of the biggest names in the biotechnology business.

Income from fermentation services for outside companies helps the BRC fulfill its mission of providing services to the University community at cost, including new equipment and services like a French Press Extruder a Golan press, a Microfluidizer and 550L fermentation tank. Expertise provided by BRC fermentation manager Fred Schendel and his team help scientists involved in basic research develop methodologies for producing molecules at pilot scale—often producing batches of biological compounds at near commercial scale.

Going Global

BTI Annouces new 5-year academic exchange agreement with Osaka University’s Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research Building on the success of its academic exchange programs with the Nara Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Nara, Japan), BTI recently announced a new 5-year...

BTI’s Wei-Shou HU spearheads new consortium to speed drug development from Chinese Hamster Ovary cell lines

Distinguished McNight Professor Wei-Shou Hu (BTI/CEMS) is leading a new Consortium for Chinese Hamster Ovary Cell Systems Biotechnology formed under the auspices of the Society of Biological Engineering. This new consortium of seven pharmaceutical companies from USA, Europe and Japan is built upon...


May 16, 2012 University of Minnesota startup to treat challenging bacterial infection  Current treatments often compound problem, potentially making infection lethal A live biological preparation developed by University of Minnesota researchers could put a stop to an increasingly prevalent,...

Wackett research team wins $2.2 million stimulus grant to explore production of hydrocarbons using bacteria

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected 37 projects for major federal stimulus funding through their Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) venue to pursue breakthrough energy research. BioTechnology Institute faculty member Larry Wackett is lead investigator for a University of Minnesota team which will receive $2.2 million in funding to explore production of liquid hydrocarbon transportation fuels directly from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide using bacteria.

Major funding awarded for research effort aimed at developing enzyme testing for food contaminants

The National Center for Food Protection and Defense, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, recently awarded $1 million to a group of researchers headed by Larry Wackett, Distinguished McKnight University Professor with the BioTechnology Institute. The grant was made for the...